Despite the hype, don't stop scrubbing.
I'm sure that I am not the only one out there who has been having trouble keeping track of what is good for you and what is not. It seems like every week a new study is being released contradicting claims that had once been held as gospel truth.
For instance, I can remember my family using margarine instead of butter for years. Imagine our shock when it was revealed that margarine was only moderately healthier than real butter and should be used sparingly and with caution. Then of course there are such things as beer or coffee, substances that my elementary school education assured me would cause my liver to shut down and heart to explode respectively.
Now they are actually good for you in moderation (and hopefully will remain so, at least until I lose my taste for them).
So was anyone really surprised when the news media revealed earlier this year that anti-bacterial soap might actually be bad for you? From a common sense perspective, antibacterial soap sounds like a godsend: Anti = against and Bacteria = bad little critters that make us sick. Ergo, antibacterial soap = soap that makes for dead bacteria and healthy people.
The initial anti-antibacterial soap reports stated that the antibacterial agents in products killed not only bacteria, but also human cells. In addition, it was feared that the prevalence of these agents in so many soaps, detergents, and cleaning products could well bring about a strain of resistant bacteria and the advent of virtually unkillable superbugs that would be as impervious to antibiotics as Superman is to bullets.
These fears have since been disproved. In a recent study it was discovered that hand washing with regular soap and antibacterial soap render essentially the same results. No extensive bacterial growth on the hands of the regular soap users, and no "superbug" infestations on the antibacterial soap users.
But where does this leave surgeons who have been diligently scrubbing with antibacterial soaps for years? Put simply, don't stop scrubbing.
"Antibacterial soaps referred to in the news articles do not equate to antibacterials and anti-septics being used in medical setting," explains Carolyn Twomey, RN, Director of Clinical Affairs at Regent Medical, a world leader in surgical gloves and skin antisepsis products.
Medical grade antibacterial soaps and hand scrubs contain different and more effective anti-bacterial agents than consumer products sold in grocery stores, and are designed for greater efficiency, spectrum of kill, and concentration of active ingredients.
"Healthcare workers should continue to use antibacterial/antiseptic soaps that have a residual kill because of the pathogens that exist in the healthcare environment," Twomey explains. Despite the recent hype, hand washing is still among the greatest protection against spreading infection, and medical grade products that provide residual kill extend that protection long after the scrubbing is done.